The Center for Gender and Development Studies, with generous funding from the European Union, created a podcast. The two-year EU grant focuses on gender equality and education development in the MENA region, so we interviewed some of the students in our gender studies minor. This minor, which we at CGDS developed and instituted in 2017, was the first in the country. At the time of this recording, it remained the only gender studies minor in all of Iraq.
The interdisciplinary minor consists of eight courses from which students choose five. Our courses are in three departments: English, Math and Sciences, and Social Sciences. They range chronologically from ancient Greece to the present, and in subject matter from health science to literature to religious studies. Fifteen students at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani have declared the minor; our first students completed their studies in the minor in spring 2020. Our students come from a variety of majors. They are both male and female, at a ratio of 1:3.
Four students—Ms. Tara Mohammed, Ms. Raz Hayder, Mr. Zhira Bazaaz, and Ms. Nishtiman Awsman—talked about their experiences taking the gender minor. They spoke about what motivated them to take the minor, and about the most important “take-home message” that they got from their classes. They also reflected on how potential employers and graduate school admission committees perceive the minor, and about any backlash they have received from taking the minor or talking about feminism.